How to add more space to your PS4 and Xbox One

If you own a modern console and have a sizeable collection of games, how do you deal with the reality of running out of disc space? We’ve got the solution.

13 Sep 2018

It’s not just the initial installation of a game that can eat up space on your hard drive. It’s also the steady drip feed of patches that follow, as well as all those miscellaneous things like screenshots and videos and apps and saves and this, that and the other.

What’s more, new games are getting bigger as developers add enhancements to take advantage of the extra horsepower of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Back in 2012, games regularly weighed in at 8 GB. In 2014, when Blu-Ray discs had become the norm, they were no more than 45 GB. But if you were to install a game like Quantum Break today on your Xbox One X, add the 4K enhancements and plump for the optional TV show, your hard drive will be groaning under the weight of 178 GB of content.

How do I easily add more space to my Xbox One or PS4 without tinkering with the internals? 

The simplest way to improve your storage capacity is to buy an external hard drive. An external drive can be plugged into your console via one of your console’s USB ports.

  • The drive must be USB 3.0 compatible
  • It must be no smaller than 250 GB on the PS4, and 256 GB on the Xbox One.

If your drive doesn’t meet the above requirements, it’ll be read as a media player instead and won’t work as a storage device.

How many external hard drives can I use?

Both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro have three USB ports, but only the Xbox will let you use all three for storage. The PS4 limits you to a single USB port and the external drive can be no bigger than 8 TB (8,000 gigabytes). The Xbox One supports 16 TB of additional space.

Can I use my external hard drive with other consoles, or other laptops too?

No. When you set up an external hard drive on your PS4 or Xbox One, the drive is specially formatted for that console. In other words, anything that’s saved on the drive will be wiped clean.

Were you to plug that drive into another console, the machine would immediately ask to format it, so you won’t be able to go any further unless you choose to wipe your content clean.

How do I format the hard drive for the Xbox One or PlayStation 4? 

You don’t need to. This is automatically handled by the console during the setup process.

So how do I set up an external hard drive on my PS4?

It’s very easy. As explains, simply:  

  1. Insert the external hard drive via one of the USB ports
  2. Go to: [Settings] > [Devices] > [USB Storage Devices].
  3. Select the USB storage device you want to format and choose “Format as Extended Storage.”

The external hard drive will now automatically be used when downloading or installing new games.

Don’t want that to happen? You can change which drive games are install on to via:

  1. [Settings] > [Storage], and then press the OPTIONS button.
  2. Select [Application Install Location]. Here, you can choose SYSTEM STORAGE or EXTENDED STORAGE.

How do I set up an external hard drive on my Xbox One? 

Connect the hard drive to a USB port on the Xbox One. A light on the drive will likely turn on.

  1. A message on the dashboard will pop up. Select [Format Storage Device].
  2. Give your hard drive a name.
  3. Choose whether you’d like to install new games and updates on the external hard drive by default.

Will running a game from an external hard drive have any impact on performance?

In many cases, external hard drives can boot games faster than the internal drive your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 comes with. In some cases the reverse is true, but never to the extent that you notice a hit in performance.

What are some good external hard drives to buy? 

Seagate 1 TB: A good entry-level model at an affordable price

WD Elements 4 TB: A middle-ground option that’ll keep you going for years. 

Seagate 8 TB: Just about the biggest external hard drive money can buy.    

Related in Gaming news

3 things we love about Metroid Dread on the Switch OLED

06 Oct 2021

5 questions to ask when getting a new gaming headset

28 Sep 2021

FIFA 21 vs FIFA 22

20 Sep 2021

Xbox Game Pass - what's new for September?

07 Sep 2021

The latest on the new Oculus Quest 2

26 Aug 2021